T-Mobile is striking out at key competitors in a new holiday advertisement likening other carriers to a collection of Grinches lording over the freedom-loving customers in 'Wirelessville'. Each of the three antagonists in the stylized cartoon short is styled to match the associated branding, with the notable exclusion of a yellow-hued Grinch to represent Sprint. Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast are portrayed as scheming to raise prices and implement new fees in a distinctly Dr. Suess style to match the artwork. After sneaking into town and serving presumably massive bills to customers, T-Mobile's CEO and other executives swoop in riding a magenta sleigh to rectify the situation, feisty as always.
Background: Price points, fees, and other hidden costs are clear focuses for the festive advertisement but there appears to be an undertone suggesting shady customer service on the part of competitors too. That's partially implied via a scene where a resident of the cartoon town attempts to call for help with the new bill and is met by a robotic answering service. A substantial amount of resources and attention have been poured into customer service by the self-proclaimed 'un-carrier' over the past year. Not least among those efforts was the launch of a new approach to that segment of the business back in August. Collectively referred to as "Team of Experts", the company enables users to connect via text message or phone call directly with a live representative that's been hired from the area of service. That allows customers to connect with real representatives who are local and to take the time to have a real off-script conversation in search of a solution to whatever problem they may be having.
Among the less nuanced aspects of the advertisement, is the exclusion of Sprint from the adversaries in the video. The omission itself may appear obvious and the complete lack of a yellow and black-colored Grinch in Wirelessville has a straightforward and likely obvious explanation too. Sprint and T-Mobile have been working to team up and merge services for a significant portion of the past and hope to finalize the matter as early as the first quarter of 2019. The two service providers claim that joining businesses — T-Mobile would effectively absorb Sprint under the "New T-Mobile" branding — will offer the best chance for both to compete in upcoming 5G technologies. It would also arguably allow a better position to compete against the emerging media-distribution side of either Verizon or AT&T.
Impact: T-Mobile conspicuously avoided the topic of incoming 5G networks entirely with its latest advertisement. Early in 2018, the carrier had claimed that 5G would make no difference in 2019, showing disdain for other companies' decision to offer at-home 5G hotspot pucks instead of smartphones. Later, in July, it went back on its apparent disinterest to announce a $3.5 billion deal with Nokia working toward getting its networks 5G ready. The fact that no mention of the next-gen networks is made in the ad isn't necessarily a big deal. But it is a step away from the general mockery it has made of top competitors in the past on the topic and seems to be at least a small step back from the usual lighthearted, if extreme, lambasting of other mobile providers.